Hermes’ Mike Antwoon on the importance of supporting SMEs across retail and why they’re central to the sector’s ongoing growth.

At the turn of the year there were a whopping 5.4 million private sector businesses in the UK, with SMEs accounting for more than 99% of that figure.

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills revealed that SMEs employed 15.6 million people across the country, which represents 60% of all private sector employment in the UK. In addition, these small and medium-sized businesses had a combined turnover of £1.8 trillion.

The impressive figures illustrate the integral role SMEs play in the UK, not just in terms of the economy, but also socially and politically. Recent research from Zurich’s SME Risk Index shows that SMEs are becoming more innovative and business savvy in an attempt to protect their futures.

Commenting on the research, Anne Griffiths, head of SME proposition at Zurich, said: “The SME community are demonstrating the flexibility to adapt and capitalise on their environment. What we are seeing now is the strength of character that has cemented small businesses’ place as the powerhouse of the British economy, but they will need all the support available for them to ride out the current uncertainty.”

SMEs employ 15.6 million people across the country, according to the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills

Lending support

At Hermes, we are lending our support by investing a six-figure sum to bolster our business accounts. The service is now used by more than 650 sole traders, internet power sellers and SME retailers across the UK to send parcels to their customers. We have strengthened our sales and support teams as an increased number of businesses look to take advantage of the benefits on offer.

Whilst we deliver parcels on behalf of 80% of the UK’s top retailers and etailers, including Next, Asos, John Lewis, Debenhams and Arcadia Group, through our corporate accounts, we also process over 10 million parcels a year for our business account clients who send more than 150 parcels a week. This includes businesses working within a variety of sectors, such as clothing and fashion, sports equipment, camping accessories and homeware.

SMEs are becoming more innovative and business savvy in an attempt to protect their futures

Since being launched two years ago, Hermes’ business accounts have offered a range of benefits including free van collection, as well as a flexible pricing scale, where the more parcels a business ships the more money it saves. Account holders are also allocated a dedicated account manager and receive access to a UK-based customer service team.

With an uncertain economic climate and concerns over a potentially changing landscape as a result of the EU referendum, it is a difficult time for SMEs operating within the retail sector. The positive impact these businesses have had and continue to have upon the retail sector’s ongoing growth cannot be underestimated, and we must look to support them with services and solutions that allow them to become more efficient, reach new customers and flourish.

  • Mike Antwoon is head of sales at Hermes